Florida baseball sweeps Gainesville Regional with 11-4 rout of Miami, will host Super Regional

The Miami Hurricanes hoped to end their drought against No. 2 Florida Gators baseball on Sunday but failed to keep the momentum they had at the end of their game earlier in the day against the Jacksonville Dolphins. In the final game of the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament at McKethan Stadium, the Gators (48-16) scored early and often, routing the Canes (38-23) 11-4 to advance to the Super Regionals.

Florida got things rolling right out of the gate. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana reached on a single, senior center fielder Bryson Smith followed him with a walk, and junior right fielder Preston Tucker capitalized by hitting a three-run bomb down the right-field line to give the Gators an early 3-0 lead. Miami got out of the inning with three-straight outs but not without first being placed in a decent hole.

After a scoreless second, Florida poured it on in the third by scoring eight runs and coming away up 11-0. With men on first and second and no one out, sophomore catcher Mike Zunino bunted to advance the runners; however, Smith would score from third on a throwing error from the catcher to the third baseman, which allowed Zunino to reach base. Junior left fielder Tyler Thompson then singled up the middle, scoring Zunino (0-3, R, BB) and Tucker; he would advance to second on the throw home.

Junior designated hitter Daniel Pigott (1-5, RBI, R) doubled to left center to plate Thompson (1-5, 2 RBI, R) after a pitching change. He crossed home just one batter later when redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit (3-4, RBI, R, SB) singled to right. Ramjit then stole second, advanced to third on a single to right by sophomore third baseman Cody Dent, and ran home when Fontana (1-5, RBI, R) hit a sacrifice fly to left. Dent (1-3, R, 2 BB) and Smith (2-4, 3 R, 2 BB), who singled to right with two outs, both came home when Tucker (2-4, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R) ended the hit parade with a two-RBI double off the right field wall.

The Gators held the Hurricanes scoreless for much of the contest thanks to a top-notch outing from junior left-hander Alex Panteliodis. Panteliodis (6-2) tossed 6.2 innings of shutout ball before giving up a solo shot in the bottom of the seven. He finished with four strikeouts on 66 pitches and gave up one earned run while scatting five hits.

Miami rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the eighth but could not reduce their deficit any further. UM has now lost eight-straight games to UF and 11 of the last 12.

As the No. 2 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament, Florida will also host Super Regional action, which begins on June 10. The Gators will take on the winner of the Atlanta Regional, either Mississippi State or Georgia Tech, in a three-game series to determine who will advance to the 2011 College World Series.

2011 Gainesville Regional Honors
Most Outstanding Player: Preston Tucker
All-Tournament Team: Nolan Fontana, Alex Panteliodis, Daniel Pigott, Tyler Thompson, Preston Tucker, Mike Zunino

Gators use 11-run first inning to dismantle Tide 16-2 in record-setting WCWS game

It started just like a normal softball game. The top of the first ended without much fanfare and the No. 4 Florida Gators were looking to put some runs on the board in the bottom of the inning to take an early lead. No one knew what was coming, especially the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide, who were looking to eliminate Florida from the 2011 Women’s College World Series with a victory early Sunday afternoon at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK.

What followed was a record-setting performance for the Gators (55-11), which scored 11 runs in the bottom of the first and demolished the Crimson Tide (53-10) 16-2 to stave off elimination in a five-inning run-ruled game.

Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie got things started for Florida with a solo shot to center. Senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-3, R) singled to center and was joined on the bags by senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder and sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte, who were each walked to load the bases.

Freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle was hit by a pitch to score another run, and senior second baseman Aja Paculba (1-2, RBI, 2 R, BB) was walked to plate a third and end the day of Alabama pitcher Kelsi Dunne, who was replaced by Jackie Traina.

Traina started her effort by walking sophomore designated player Ensley Gammel and allowing freshman third baseman Kasey Fagan to hit an RBI single, putting the Gators ahead 6-0. All of Dunne’s base runners scored, giving her six earned runs on two hits with three walks and a hit batter in just 0.1 inning.

A double steal attempt with Fagan (1-2, 2 RBI, R, SB) and Gammel allowed the latter to cross the plate, and a single up the middle from Moultrie (2-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, SB) put runners on the corners before she swiped second. With two outs, Bruder (0-0, 3 R, 3 BB) walked on four-straight pitches to load the bases for Schutte (1-1, GS, 4 RBI, 3 R, 2 BB), who took advantage of the opportunity with a grand slam to conclude the 11-run frame.

Florida set a WCWS record with 11 runs in a single inning, snapping the mark previously held by UCLA against UF (nine, 2010). The Orange and Blue also tattooed Alabama for more runs in one inning than they’ve given up in a single game all season. The Crimson Tide gave the Gators six free passes in the inning, walking five batters and hitting one.

Alabama got on the board in the top of the second with a solo shot to right, but Gammel (1-2, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, SB, BB) responded with a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning to put Florida ahead 13-1. Traina was pulled at the end of the inning, leaving after coughing up seven earned runs on five hits with three walks in 1.2 innings of work.

The Gators continued their onslaught in the third when Coyle’s (1-1, HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, BB) three-run bomb gave them a 16-1 advantage and tied the WCWS single-game record for team homers in a game (four). Florida’s 15 RBI were also a WCWS single-game record, and the 16 runs scored by UF through three innings are the most given up in a single game by UA softball in school history.

Senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher (20-2) went the entire way for the Gators, striking out seven while allowing two runs on solo homers. She only gave up three hits and did not walk a single batter in five innings.

Florida and Alabama, each having now lost a game in the WCWS, will square off Sunday evening at 7 p.m. in an elimination game. The victor will move on to the WCWS Championship Series, which begins on Monday at 8 p.m. and airs live on ESPN2.

Florida softball staves off elimination with 5-2 victory over California in WCWS

Facing elimination and a deficit, No. 4 Florida Gators softball (54-11) stuck together and came out on top Saturday, defeating the No. 7 California Golden Bears (45-14) 5-2 in a 2011 Women’s College World Series elimination game at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK. Florida put together a come-from-behind victory for the 15th time this season, fighting out of a rough start and 2-0 hole to keep themselves alive.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Hannah Rogers (35-7) got the start for the Gators but struggled early, allowing the Golden Bears to score a pair of runs in the first frame of the game. After a batter reached on an error from freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle, back-to-back hits scored two before Rogers could get out of the inning.

After two ground outs to begin the third, Florida began a rally with senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder hitting an infield single. Sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte followed with a single to center, sending Bruder all the way to third. Senior first baseman Megan Bush (0-2, R, 2 BB) joined the ladies on base with a walk, and Coyle (1-3, RBI) added to the hit parade by singling to the shortstop to score Bruder (2-3, R, BB) and Schutte (2-4, R), who came home on a throwing error.

The Gators plated one more that inning, utilizing a single to center by senior second baseman Aja Paculba to score Bush from third and take a 3-2 lead.

Looking to increase their advantage, Florida added single runs in the fourth and fifth innings to jump ahead 5-2. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie punched a ball through the right side with one out in the fourth and stole second base to get in scoring position. Senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (1-3, RBI, BB) rewarded her efforts with an infield, sending Moultrie home to score. Paculba got things started in the fifth with a double to center and, like Moultrie, improved her position on by stealing third. Three batters later, Moultrie (2-4, RBI, R, SB) was fortunate enough to mirror DeFelice’s RBI with an infield single of her own (due to the shortstop hesitating) to plate Paculba (2-3, RBI, R, SB).

After hitting a batter but getting out of the inning leaving and two on base in the fourth, Rogers was pulled for senior RHP Stephanie Brombacher. She was strong and efficient the rest of the way, only allowing one hit and one walk in three innings, locking up the game for the orange and blue.

UF’s victory over Cal is their third in the last four years; each time they have met, the Gators put an end to the Golden Bears’ season.

Florida advances to face No. 2 Alabama (53-9) at 1 p.m. on Sunday, live on ESPN. If the Gators win and a second contest is necessary, game two will begin at 7 p.m. (ESPN2). UF is 2-1 against UA this season (with wins on a walk-off home run and single, respectively, from Bruder); they will square off in the WCWS for the second time in the last three years.

Gators baseball walks off with 5-4 win over Hurricanes in Gainesville Regional action

The rivalry may have been taken to another level Saturday as No. 2 Florida Gators baseball and the Miami Hurricanes squared off at McKethan Stadium in the Gainesville Regional portion of the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Florida (47-16) came back from a two-run deficit and eventually took a 5-4 victory on a walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth to advance to the regional finals and send Miami (37-22) to an elimination game.

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Hudson Randall got the start for the Gators but was pulled after six innings of solid work. Junior RHP Tommy Toledo (5-3) pitched a strong ninth inning and came away with the victory.

Scoreless for two innings, Miami got on board first in the third to take an early 1-0 lead. The Hurricanes started the inning with a double and sacrificed a bunt and fly to bring the runner home. UM added a second run in the fourth, scoring a lead-off single with a one-out stand-up double.

Feeling the pressure, Florida succeeded in tying the game in the bottom of the inning. Junior right fielder Preston Tucker (2-4, RBI, R) got things going with a double, and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino followed suit to send him home and reduce the Gators’ deficit. Junior left fielder Tyler Thompson (2-4, RBI) kept the double parade going, smacking a ball to deep right to score Zunino (2-4, RBI, R) and knot the game up at 2-2.

UF kept the scoring run going in the fifth as sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana connected on a single to score redshirt sophomore first baseman Vickash Ramjit, who led off the inning with a double. Fontana would advance to second on a bad throw and move over to third when senior center fielder Bryson Smith (2-3) singled. Continuing his hard-hitting afternoon, Tucker stepped into the box and doubled off the right field wall to plate Fontana and give Florida a 4-2 lead.

Miami looked to be going down in the top of the sixth but salvaged the frame to get on the board and draw the game closer. RF Dale Carey hit a clutch two-out double down the left field line to get on base and was singled home by third baseman Brad Fieger to put the Canes just one run behind the Gators. UM capitalized again in the seventh as second baseman Zeke DeVoss began the inning with a single, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt and came around to tie the game on a single by LF Rony Rodriguez.

The visitors threatened in the top of the eighth and ninth, but great pitching from Toledo (1.0 IP, K, H) negated a lead-off double in the latter inning to get Florida out of a jam. Gators junior designated hitter Daniel Pigott started the bottom of the inning by getting on base because of an error by the shortstop, advanced to second on a balk and was joined on base by Ramjit (1-3, R, BB), who was walked. The duo moved to second and third after a wild pitch and were joined on the bags when P Daniel Miranda walked his second batter of the inning, sophomore 3B Cody Dent (0-3, BB).

With all the pressure on him, Fontana (2-5, RBI, R) stepped up to the plate and hit a game-winning single to left, scoring Pigott (0-4, R) and sending Florida into the Gainesville Regional championship game on Sunday.

The Hurricanes have now lost seven-straight games to the Gators and 10 of the last 11. Four of Florida’s runs were scored due to opportunities provided by UM errors.

Miami will face Jacksonville at noon with the winner taking on UF in the finals at 4 p.m., live on ESPNU. The Gators only need one more victory to advance to the Super Regional, while either Miami or Jacksonville would have to defeat Florida twice.

Arizona State walks off with 6-5 win over Florida in Women’s College World Series

The game may have begun Friday night but no conclusion was reached until early Saturday morning as No. 4 Florida Gators softball and the No. 1 Arizona State Sun Devils fought back-and-forth hoping to earn a victory in their second game of the 2011 Women’s College World Series. ASU (57-6) eventually came away with a 6-5 win over UF (53-11) at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK, getting the final say in the matter with a walk-off single in the final frame of the game.

Read the game story and find out about Saturday’s contest…after the break!
Continue Reading » Arizona State walks off with 6-5 win over Florida in Women’s College World Series

Florida routs Manhattan 17-3 in NCAA regional

The truth is that the Manhattan Jaspers never had much of a chance on Friday, squaring off against No. 2 Florida Gators baseball in the second game of the Gainesville Regional at McKethan Stadium in Gainesville, FL. Florida (46-16) scored five runs in the first inning, four in the second and seven in the third to demolish Manhattan (34-18) 17-3 in the late afternoon game and advance to the winner’s bracket.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Karsten Whitson (8-0) got the call Friday and delivered in spades, striking out three and only allowing two hits in 3.1 innings. He was pulled early simply because of the advantage UF held after three innings.

The Gators’ offense supported him early and often, posting a five-spot in the bottom of the first inning to kick things off. Sophomore shortstop Nolan Fontana (2-6, RBI, R) led off the inning with a single and was moved over to second when senior center fielder Bryson Smith (2-4, 2 RBI, 3 R) was hit by a pitch; junior right fielder Preston Tucker singled home Fontana and sophomore catcher Mike Zunino plated Smith.

An infield single and subsequent error gave junior left fielder Tyler Thompson a spot on second and scored both Tucker and Zunino; Thompson (4-4, RBI, 3 R, BB) crossed the plate shortly after when junior designated hitter Daniel Pigott smacked a single to left.

Florida added four more runs the next inning, beginning with three via back-to-back home runs. Tucker launched a two-run shot to right-center, and Zunino (3-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 R) followed him by hitting his ball to almost the exact same spot. Pigott (4-5, 3 RBI, R) earned another RBI a few batters later, singling to right field and sending senior second baseman Josh Adams (2-5, 2 R) home to give the Gators a 9-0 lead.

Tucker (3-6, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R) did what he could to keep the momentum going, smacking another two-run homer in the third. Florida led 11-0 at that point but added five more runs in the inning to hold a 16-0 advantage through three. Sophomore first baseman Austin Maddox was pulled in the top half of the inning after spraining his foot. His availability going forward is currently unknown.

Manhattan’s starter, John Soldinger, left the bases loaded with no one out upon exiting in the top of the third. He tossed two innings and surrendered an astonishing 15 earned runs on 16 hits with three homers, two walks, two hit batters and one strikeout.

Replacing Whitson, freshman RHP Keenan Kish was looking solid until the fifth inning when he gave up four hits and allowed three unearned runs, reducing the Jaspers’ deficit to 16-3. The Gators rallied to add another run in the seventh, which marked the end of Kish’s career-long outing of 3.2 innings. He struck out three and walked one.

With the victory, Florida moves on to the winner’s bracket to face Miami (37-21) on Saturday at 4 p.m. The game will air live on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. The winner will advance to the finals of the Gainesville Regional, while the loser will face the victor of the elimination game between Jacksonville-Manhattan at noon to determine who will take the other spot in the finals.

Tebow’s Through My Eyes media tour continues

Former Florida Gators and current Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow has been making the rounds recently, appearing on numerous television programs to promote the release of his new memoir, Through My Eyes. Already having stopped by The 700 Club and FOX News‘ The Sean Hannity Show, Tebow continued his media tour Thursday and Friday with four more appearances.

Thursday, Tebow appeared on Comedy Central‘s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart:

Friday, he made a trio of early morning visits to FOX News‘ Fox & Friends, MSNBC‘s Morning Joe and ESPN2‘s First Take (videos are in order below).

UPDATE: Tebow ended up staying at FOX News for a bit, appearing on The O’Reilly Factor in the evening and Huckabee on Saturday night.

Florida claws Mizzou 6-2 to win WCWS opener

Appearing in their fourth-straight Women’s College World Series, No. 4 Florida Gators softball (53-10) got off to a hot start and held off the No. 5 Missouri Tigers (52-9) to take a 6-2 opening round victory and advance in the winners bracket at ASA Hall of Fame Stadium in Oklahoma City, OK.

The Gators scored early and often to start the game. Junior center fielder Michelle Moultrie led off the first with a single, advanced to second on a dropped infield popup and scored one batter later when senior left fielder Kelsey Bruder hit a screamer up the middle for a stand-up triple. Sophomore right fielder Brittany Schutte (0-2, RBI) then brought Bruder home with a sacrifice squeeze to put Florida ahead 2-0 early on.

After getting the Tigers out in order in the top of the first inning, senior right-handed pitcher Stephanie Brombacher got herself into a pickle in the second. With two runners on and no one out, Brombacher was able to wiggle her way out of the inning with a pop out and a pair of clutch strikeouts.

She got in trouble again in the third and was pulled from the game with one out and runners on first and third. Freshman RHP Hannah Rogers relieved her and walked the first batter to load the bases but delivered a strikeout and forced a fly out to end the inning without allowing any damage. Mizzou stranded five total base runners in the two innings.

Flexing their muscles in the bottom of the third, the Gators jumped out to a 5-0 lead thanks to a pair of powerful home runs. Moultrie (2-3, HR, RBI, 2 R, SB, BB) led off the inning with a solo shot to center, and senior first baseman Megan Bush (2-3, HR, 2 RBI, R) hit a two-run bomb to left, scoring Bruder (1-1, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB) from third and setting Florida’s single-season record for homers in a season (21) in the process.

The Tigers answered back in the sixth, getting runners on first and second with no outs early in the inning and fighting to get them home after giving up back-to-back outs. Missouri LF Lisa Simmons hit a two-RBI double to deep left-center, scoring both base runners and reducing their deficit to three runs, 5-2.

Florida did what they could to respond in the bottom of the inning. Freshman shortstop Cheyenne Coyle (1-2, R, BB) walked to lead off the frame, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by senior catcher Tiffany DeFelice (0-2), and scored two batters later to give the Gators a 6-2 lead when sophomore designated player Ensley Gammel (2-3, RBI) singled to right center.

The six runs Florida scored against Mizzou starter Chelsea Thomas were the most she has given up all season. Rogers (34-6) earned the win for the Gators after striking out four, walking three and allowing a pair of hits in 4.2 innings.

The Gators advanced in the winner’s bracket and will face No. 1 Arizona State (56-6), which beat Oklahoma (42-18) 3-1 on Thursday, at 9:30 p.m. on Friday. The game will air live on ESPN and ESPN3.com.

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